Things got quite hectic for the Montreal Canadiens in July. A surprising playoff run ended in the Stanley Cup Final, the organization lost a player — Cale Fleury — to the expansion Seattle Kraken, the franchise added nine new prospects in the entry draft, then made a series of acquisitions in free agency to cap off the month.
Now that we are about halfway between the end of the season and the start of the 2021-22 campaign, it’s time for the 2021 Montreal Canadiens Top 25 Under 25 to begin. The first step is to introduce the players who are eligible this time around.
There were 43 players in the project last year. This time around the number drops one, to 42 who were born after September 15, 1996; the cutoff date for the NHL Entry Draft, and our reference point for deciding eligibility. They’re listed below by position, and sorted in descending order by age.
We are including Logan Mailloux in the project. The Canadiens have announced that he won’t be participating in any of the upcoming camps that will involve some of the other draft picks selected this year, but we will count this as the first of his seven years of eligibility in the project. We wrote about his history and discussed his merits as a prospect, and we’ll factor all of that into determining where he will slot into the prospect picture at this moment in time.
There’s also Otto Leskinen, who has a contract to play for Jokerit of the KHL this year, but was extended a qualifying offer and is therefore still on the reserve list as a restricted free agent. This is his last year of eligibility before turning 25 in February.
With a spectrum ranging from newly drafted teenagers to players who have seen multiple years of action in the NHL, some guidelines for the project are needed. The best way to approach the ranking is to consider projected value of the players.
Many people preferred the “would you trade Player A for Player B?” method of weighing the options in the past, ranking A higher than B if the answer is “no.” One issue with this particular method is that you may end up placing more importance on current NHL players than top-end prospects.
The goal of the project is to rank players according to their projected impact at the NHL level. This does not necessarily mean with the Montreal Canadiens, and not necessarily for this upcoming season. Assume every player has an open shot at claiming the place in a lineup that his skill set suggests.
On the flipside, a player already producing in a third-line role in the NHL is likely more valuable than a longer-term prospect who has a small chance of becoming a top-six player. Your decision in those situations will depend on how confident you are that a prospect will reach his projected ceiling.
With that in mind, instead of asking which player you would rather trade, ask which player you’d rather lose. If you would be more upset at the organization parting with a certain prospect than a particular established NHL player, the prospect should be higher on your list. The player at the bottom of your ballot should be the one the organization (and you) would miss the least if he left. The player at the top will be the one you’d happily rebuild your franchise around from scratch, whether that’s a current top-six NHL forward, a minor-league goaltender, or a teenage defenceman.
Any obvious troll ballots (e.g. placing a current NHL player at #42) will be disqualified. The hundreds of community votes we receive will be averaged together to serve as one of our panel entries — a wisdom-of-the-crowd ranking — that we incorporate in the final results.
As we have done the past few years, two EOTP community members will be granted individual ballots this year. To choose them, I will tally the individual comments made on our weekly prospect reports this year, limiting candidates to those with no warnings on their account in the past 12 months, and who hadn’t had an individual vote in the series in the past four years. The two representatives will have their ballots receive equal weight to those of staff members in determining the rankings.
Should you decide to do some research for your ballot, you can read up on David St-Louis’s Catching The Torch series, Patrik Bexell’s European Prospect Report, and our comprehensive coverage of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. I ask that you refrain from discussing the specific or relative order of the players in the comments of this article as to not influence other members’ decisions.
The survey you are asked to fill out has three questions.
The first one asks for your SB Nation (EOTP) username so we can validate ballots and find the ones from our panellists (all participating staff members will be filling out this same ballot during the same window as well).
The second is a drag-and-drop list of the 42 players (randomized for each of you). Move the players around until you’re happy with your order, from the best at the top to the worst at the bottom.
The final question asks how many players you ranked. You must have ranked at least the top 25 players for your ballot to count in the average. Ranking all 42 would be ideal, and the more the better, but just rank as many as you’re comfortable with and let us know how long your list was so we don’t factor in the ranks for the players you skipped.
Ballots can be edited after submission (so long as you use the same device and don’t delete the survey site’s cookies or clear your browser’s cache), but it’s probably best if you don’t second-guess yourself too much. Please take your time to consider each player. It’s also a good idea to keep a record of your list to reference throughout the series as the reveal takes place.
The results will be collected at 12:00 PM EDT on Sunday, August 22, with preliminary articles beginning in the following days.
Your ballot can be filled out here: